Frying is one of the oldest methods in existence for cooking food.
Recent investigations have shown that frying is beneficial to the organism, particularly from physiological point of view. Because of this, it has extended to areas where formerly it was not as popular. Whether a fried food is digested easily or feels like "lying heavily on the stomach", depends on the type of oil used, the temperature of the oil and the manner in which the food was fried. Studies undertaken on healthy subjects and patients with gastroduodenal problems (gastritis, ulcer, liver and biliary complaints) have shown that there is no relationship between food fried in olive oil and these illnesses.
Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC). Those fats with lower critical points, such as corn and butter, break down at this temperature and form toxic products. Olive oil should not be mixed with other fats or vegetable oils and should not generally be used more than four or five times.
The digestibility of heated olive oil does not change even when re-used for frying several times.
The oil used for frying should always be hot; if it is cold the food will soak up the oil.There should always be plenty of oil in the pan when deep frying. If only a small amount is used, not only will it burn more easily but the food being fried will be undercooked on top and overcooked on the bottom.
Another advantage of using olive oil for frying is that it forms a crust on the surface of the food that impedes the penetration of oil and improves its flavour. Food fried in olive oil has a lower fat content than food fried in other oils, making olive oil more suitable for weight control. Olive oil, therefore, is the most suitable, the lightest and the tastiest medium for frying.
Olive cultivation is a staple crop in Creta, together with grape (as a dessert fruit and wine) and wheat (as pasta, bread and flour). As a consequence, olive oil is one of the cornerstones of Cretan diet and gastronomy.
Olive oil can be consumed as soon the extraction process is done. It is used as a dressing, both alone and as an ingredient in dressings and vinaigrette, as well as a raw ingredient in some recipes. Being the only available vegetable fat, attempts to change olive oil with other vegetable oils in a recipe, totally destroys the character of the dish. Finally olive oil can be using sauteing and frying – controlling the temperature so as to not exceed 210 °C keeps the original chemical structure intact and doesn’t allow the formation of trans-fats.
Olive oil is digested by the body by 98% while yielding the same number of calories as all other vegetable oils that are 9.3 per gram. However, the mechanical extraction without further heat or chemical processing, makes it rich in monounsaturated fats and thus, healthier.
Choosing a cold-extracted olive oil can be similar to selecting a wine. The flavors and aromas vary considerably between cultivars and regions. The taste of the olive oil can be influenced by the cultivar, the annual temperatures, the rain and amount of irrigation water, the altitude, sunlight amount, the ripeness stage when processed and many others factors.
In this area of our website we will be posting recipes based on extra virgin olive oil. Expect everything: from cold dressing to sweets and … cocktails!
Read, prepare and enjoy!